MAFS couple Jamie and Doug defend their controversial photo

Jamie Otis sits on a couch while hosting Married at First Sight: Unfiltered
Jamie Otis reflects on the Married at First Sight experience with MAFS alumni. Pic credit: Lifetime

After a fun-filled weekend with MAFS stars, Jamie Otis’s birthday festivities continued this time with her husband Doug Hehner.

The longest-standing MAFS couple took some time to celebrate Jamie turning 35, and the Married at First Sight: Unfiltered host recently posted a photo from her trip that is stirring up controversy and disapproval. 

Jamie gets vulnerable about body image 

In Jamie’s post, her intent was to discuss body image and the way in which she is continually learning to embrace herself despite the insecurities.

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Jamie shared that once she saw the photos from her birthday excursions her first thought was feeling insecure about appearing bigger than her husband Doug. She confessed feeling shame over her size being the first thing she noticed in the photos rather than focusing on her smile and the adoring looks Doug gave her. 

Jamie is known to be quite outspoken about the changes in her body, especially after having two children. She was equally vulnerable in her latest post, admitting that she used to really struggle with defining her worth by the numbers on a scale.

She expressed that she is working to love herself rather than “loathe herself” as she loses the baby weight. She also acknowledged that she is a work in progress and is motivated to unlearn unhealthy attitudes towards body image for the sake of her kids. 

Keeping in line with her message of body positivity, Jamie told followers it’s okay to be bigger than your partner and shared that, “You can be fat and still be feminine and beautiful.”

She encouraged her fans to unfollow accounts that may make them feel “ugly” and reminded everyone to love themselves where they are right now instead of only practicing self-love “once you get a flat belly”.

Jamie and Doug are accused of animal cruelty 

Despite the empowering message about self-love in Jamie’s post, fans took issue with a photo Jamie posted that included Jamie and Doug standing on the backs of horses while in the water. 

While people appreciated her powerful sentiments on body positivity, they could not ignore what they perceived as animal cruelty. Many commenters expressed feeling bad for the rescue horses, believing that it was cruel of Jamie and Doug to stand on the horses’ backs and pleading with the couple to consider the hurt and pain they could potentially be causing the animals.

Commenters also accused Jamie of putting unnecessary pressure on the animals all for the sake of a cute instagram pic.

Commenter tells Jamie Otis, "Sorry I didn't look at your legs. I'm looking at those poor sweet horses who were made to stand in water up to their neck while you were concerned about the perfect insta pose."
Commenter questions Jamie’s sincerity. Pic credit: @julie.owen79/Instagram

With an influx of disapproving comments and backlash, both Doug and Jamie stepped into the comments to defend their actions. 

Doug addressed “anyone who instantly feels bad for the horses” and admitted that he and Jamie felt bad too at the start, but they trusted the guides who informed them that standing on the horses does not harm nor torture them and, in fact, feels the same as sitting on the horse. 

Doug completed his statement, saying, “no pic would be worth any animal’s pain & we’d never do that. Ted talk over.” 

Doug Hehner writes a statement defending his photo with Jamie Otis
Doug attempts to provide clarity on the photo. Pic credit: @doughehner/Instagram

Jamie thanked Doug for taking time out to address the criticism and she too explained that they only partook in standing on the horses because their guides allowed them to do it with the promise that it would not inflict harm. 

While Jamie trusted her horse guides, she also appears open to learning more about proper horse treatment, as she loves horses and reiterated that she would never want to hurt them. 

Married at First Sight returns Wednesday, July 21 at 8/7c on Lifetime 

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